Woman waits for her can to fill up as long...

Woman waits for her can to fill up as long lines and gas cans were common at a gas station off Penninsula Blvd. in Hewlett. (Nov. 5, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Being in a state of emergency makes me reflect on all the reasons I fell in love with my husband. Survival skills are not among them.

My husband, whom we affectionately call Great Guy, is anything but an Eagle Scout. When there are warnings for severe weather, I have the batteries, the candles, the extra cash, the important papers and the cat carrier all ready to go.

But as soon as a hurricane is bearing down, his first concern is: Do we have bagels?

Then as soon as the storm passes: Can we get more bagels?

He'll brave 90-mph winds for a toasted bagel.

At times like this, I want to Break-Glass-in-Case-of-Emergency and have superhusband jump out. The guy who lassos a leaning oak. Who runs out and finds the open gas station, fills the cars and gas containers -- and picks me up a sweet treat. The guy who keeps O-positive blood in the fully stocked emergency cooler, just in case. I know they exist. I've seen their handiwork. I want to stake out their secret society meetings and ask if I can get Great Guy an apprenticeship.

This isn't to say Great Guy doesn't plan for emergencies. Back in 1985 after Hurricane Gloria, before we even lived here, Great Guy was already planning on buying a generator for our imaginary Long Island house. And let me tell you, Great Guy knows how to set up a generator right. No extension cords for him. That would mean he'd have to move appliances. Oh, no. We rewired.

He wanted every single appliance on this gigunda generator. Even the electrician said, "Do you really think your wife will be worrying about laundry in a hurricane?"

The electrician showed me how to use the generator. I showed Great Guy how to use the generator. Great Guy made a big deal of telling everyone that the instruction manual was in this corner of his desk. Don't touch it, don't cover it, don't move it.

But the minute the lights go out, what does he say?

"Where's the generator manual? I told everyone not to touch the generator manual. Eileen, find the generator manual."

Silently, without a flashlight, I walk to his desk and pick up the manual and hand it to him. His reply: "That's not what I was looking for, but it'll work."

Now, you can't run this noisy, annoy-your-neighbors generator without gasoline. But Great Guy hadn't anticipated a gas crisis and didn't have gas cans ready.

He's a quick learner, though. When an online delivery order would take too long, he called a friend in California and had the cans overnighted to him. And it's a good thing he did. We ran that generator until we got power back from the grid only this past Thursday, 17 days after Sandy.


So, before our next emergency, I will assemble the batteries, the candles, the extra cash, the important papers, the cat carrier; fill the gas containers; put O-positive blood in the ice chest; tie down the house -- and fill the gas containers. When all the lights go out, I'll find the generator manual, fire up the beast and flip the switch.

You will find Great Guy in front of the big flat-screen TV, enjoying a cold drink from the refrigerator, a toasted bagel, and a room the perfect temperature.

So planning and execution are two different talents. But as Great Guy says, "Hey, who got us the generator, huh?"

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